Archive for June, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I am having some problems with my camera – I have lots of pictures to share from last weekend, so stayed tuned! I think I should be up and running tonight.

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Total Tuesday

Here we go..a day in the life…

I woke up tired and sore today. This yoga stuff is serious business. I attended a 90 minute Power Yoga class last night with a different instructor than I normally go to. It was tough.

This was one of the first days since I gave up coffee that I was really craving it. Sigh.

My 7:30AM breakfast was a bowl of half Nature’s Path and half Rice Crispies. Rice crispies = nutritional value of cardboard. However, I made rice crispy treats over the weekend and had some left over. They were tasty enough. I added some blueberries, slices of banana, and a small piece (I would like to think of it as a ‘crumb’) of coconut pound cake smeared with PB on the side.

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My eyes were actually bigger than my stomach with this cereal bowl. I didn’t finish it.

I trucked through my morning at work, munching another small piece of coconut pound cake and some Yogi ginger tea. Love my ginger.

For lunch, I pulled out my fav lunch bag and had a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.

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I ate my pita at my desk. Sadly, I often dine at my desk. I hate it, but sometimes time constraints, project deadlines, etc get in the way. Today, most of my normal lunch buddies were heading to a Thai restaurant and I just wasn’t feeling it and had some things to do.  However, I was able to escape my desk mid-afternoon for a jaunt outside and a smoothie. I knew my lunch was a little low on calories (I would usually have crackers or fruit with my pita) so I headed to Mixstirs (Grant Street, lobby of the Omni William Penn, Downtown – formerly the Amazon Cafe). The menu has stayed almost the same since the Amazon Cafe days so I don’t know exactly what the deal is with Mixstirs. Oh well. I was forced into a quick decision st the counter and chose a small ‘Skinny Squeeze’ (honey, watermelon, strawberries – and according to the website, a fat burner boost?). I really didn’t know what I was ordering. They also accidentally made me a large smoothie instead of a small. Good? Not really. I obviously slurped down the whole tasty thing while sitting in the sun outside the Mellon Building. The Mixstirs website tells me I downed 330 calories. Whoops.

Around 3:30PM, I snacked on about 1-2 T of PB with celery sticks. I also had a small piece of dark chocolate.

After my evening commute was jazzed up by seeing a grown woman in a dance costume on the bus (crushed velvet and sheer fabric), I arrived home around 6:30PM. I grabbed a tiny bowl of rice crispies (maybe they are growing on me?) and was back out the door. It was time to hit the ‘mill.

I did 3 miles tonight, mostly running. It took me around 30 minutes. After the gym I had to go pick up my car. It was being worked on, again. I have had 4 flat tires in the last 6 months so hopefully its now fixed! My car was actually at my parents. While picking it up, I was able to snag a burger on a whole wheat bun with mustard and tomato and some grilled potato wedges. My dad talked me into a 100 calorie ice cream sandwich for dessert. He loves his 100 calorie treats! It tasted really sweet, but good.

Now I am watching trash TV (America’s Got Talent is the drug of choice this evening) and realizing I overdid it on the treats/desserts a bit today. It happens! My body feels good and worn out from yoga and running though, so I’m feeling OK.

Another Tuesday come and gone…I hope this nice Pittsburgh weather sticks around for a bit!

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This weekend went by in a flash! I am dragging a bit today – The Boy and I did some partying/socializing over the weekend and I think its catching up to me. I enjoyed an all day (and all night?) party on Saturday, complete with trashy party/BBQ food. A baby shower and Father’s Day celebration then rounded out my Sunday. I am proud to say my brother and I even went for a ‘foodie’ gift for my dad – PennMac gift card, parm cheese, and balsamic vinegar. May sound weird to some, but he loved it.

Some highlights from the weekend:

Friday Night  – grilled pizzas and (splurge) – a shared DQ Reese Pieces blizzz for dessert

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Greek Style Pizza – TJs whole wheat crust, olive oil, farmer’s market fresh feta, lamb, olives, and tomatoes

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Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza – TJs whole wheat crust, TJs pizza sauce, fresh mozz, GOOD prosciutto, tomatoes – arugula dressed with balsamic thrown on after grilling

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The Boy’s little grill set up – we live in the city, this space is precious!

After a relaxing Friday evening, The Boy and his housemate had a party on Saturday. Lots of beer was consumed. I stuck to white wine and contributed to the event by making some super easy snacks – buffalo chicken dip and rice crispy treats. Hey, I play to the crowd. This crew devoured the goods.  Late night Saturday brought me face to face with a Mike and Tony’s gyro (1414 East Carson Street – open late!). Somehow, in my 4 plus years cruising Carson Street, this has never happened to me before. This place is an institution in Southside, Pittsburgh’s tried and true nightlife haven. I will admit to eating half a gyro – and hey, it wasn’t bad! I guess all those drunk people lined up at 2am know what they are doing (kind of). The pita was warm, the lamb tender. There was a decent amount of lettuce and tomato on there and not too much sauce. I might even eat one sober!

Sunday found me surprisingly functional. I attended a baby shower and then made my way to the parents’ house for dinner. They put on quite as spread, as always.

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Family style platter of basmati rice, grilled veggies, steak and scallops. So fresh and perfect for a meal on the deck.

After dinner, the group sampled the dessert I had prepared (squeezed in there somewhere during my whirlwind weekend). I made pineapple sorbet and coconut pound cake. For the pineapple sorbet, I used the same recipe as the melon sorbet but subbed limoncello cream in for regular limoncello.  It was really good. I used a whole pineapple.  Here is a shot mid-process.

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The food processor makes this really easy. Fruit, sugar, lemon, limoncello, ON. Chill. Put in ice cream maker. Done.

I used this recipe for the coconut pound cake and was a bit disappointed. I thought it was quite dry. However, this did not stop me from nibbling on a skinny slice of the leftovers with my breakfast this morning. I love coconut and still like this coconut pound cake idea – just not sure I would make this recipe again.

just a sliver - not the whole thing!

just a sliver - not the whole thing!

Back to my Monday routine. Sigh. At least its sunny today..

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Yesterday, I attended the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s ‘Taste of Pasta’ event in the Steel Plaza, outside the US Steel Tower (Steel Building). I actually attended the event last year as well. For $9 you receive 4 portions of pasta from various vendors. I grabbed samples from Grecian Isles (located in the Steel Building – linguini with feta), Rafaelle’s Passionate Italian Eatery (Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills – four-cheese baci with marinara), Sewickley Heights Golf Club (cold taipei tuna noodle salad – my fav!), and Church Brew Works (Lawrenceville – pasta salad with shrimp, black beans, tomatoes). Everything was really good. Rafaelle’s was also generously handing out a small dessert – a chocolate pudding/cookie/ganache thing. Yum. The amount of pasta was more than enough for lunch. I nibbled a tiny bit of the dessert. A great event! Obviously, any readers have missed the boat on attending, but here are some other upcoming events I may try and attend…

Food Fridays in the courtyard – Different vendors are to be setting up in the courthouse courtyard and selling a $5-$7 lunch spread. I used to walk through the courtyard every day on the way to work and it really is beautiful.  Hope to make it to this sometime.

Great European BeerFest – Happening at the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium  parking lot the weekend of June 27th and 28th. The Boy has been talking about going. I still lean toward wine in most settings but am always up for learning more about beer!

Happy hours – There are many of great deals to be had in the city right now. Last night I attended at a happy hour at Tusca in Southside Works. The bar space is nice and opens up on to the sidewalk. All (or mostly all) drinks and some appetizers were half off from 5-7. Not a bad deal! Check it out.

Know of any other great foodie events happening in Pittsburgh or beyond? Let me know!

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I finally made it to Eleven with a group of coworkers on Tuesday. We went for lunch and were quickly seated at a large rounded booth. We did make reservations – however, the place wasn’t overly crowded.

Eleven is part of the Big Burrito group. It is the most upscale of the group and touts the use of local ingredients and its vegetarian friendly menu. The interior of Eleven was a little different than I expected. I suppose I was envisioning a more lavish space. The interior is simplistic though – the dining room is long and narrow and somewhat separate from the bar. Greens, blacks, and browns are used in the decor – natural colors and textures are used as well.

 The lunch menu included some appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrées. Sandwiches were in the $10 to $15 range. Entrées reached to $20 and beyond – a bit pricey for lunch.  All the offerings looked good. I eyed up a soft shell crab sandwich served with asparagus. However, I decided upon the tomatillo gazpacho and a spinach salad. (To note, I believe the menu changes frequently). The others at the table all ordered sandwiches, including the soft shell crab sandwich and burgers.

Service was smooth yet distant, which was fine. A bread basket was served. My soup was brought out before the sandwiches. The tomatillos gave the soup a light orange/yellowish color.  The soup was very bright tasting but a bit garlicky for me. I am not sure I would order it again. The salads and sandwiches followed. All sandwiches were generously sized and served with fries. Everyone seemed to enjoy (and finished) their dishes – however, one burger eater threw in a “Still not as good as Tessaro’s”. Hmmm.

My spinach salad arrived and outshone my soup. The greens were at the peak of freshness and lightly (key!) dressed in a bacon vinaigrette. A perfectly poached egg sat atop the salad. Lightly pan fried potatoes sat underneath the greens. It all sounds heavy but it really was not. So good. The portion was slightly more generous than a side salad (it was priced at $7).

Overall, my experience with Eleven was above average. This is not an every day type splurge but I would return for dinner if the opportunity presented itself.

One other note – I felt the service was attentive but the lunch did end up running close to an hour and a half – a little too long for a work day lunch. Not sure who’s fault this was – I would just warn this isn’t the place for a quick lunch.

Eleven on Urbanspoon

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Total Tuesday: Recap

Total Tuesdays continues…the one day of the week I account for all my eats and discuss my lifestyle, workouts, etc.

I started the morning with a bowl of cold cereal. Blow drying your hair and then eating a hot bowl of oatmeal can cause a meltdown.

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I added some raspberries, strawberries, a little pb and banana sandwich, cut up, and skim milk.

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I am sorry Nature’s Path, but you tend to disappoint me in the cereal department. I keep going back to you because your flavors and variety seem so appealing – but you never live up to my expectations. Sigh. I could not detect any ginger in this and the dried cranberries were super hard, dry, and small.

Around 10AM, at work, I started to feel a bit hungry. I ate a handful of almonds and 4 ginger thins (TJs, very good) that I brought with me.

Around 11:45AM, I departed for a special lunch out. I had the pleasure of dining at Eleven. I will do a full review tomorrow – however, I will divulge that I slurped up a bowl of tomatillo gazpacho and noshed my way through a spinach salad (mmm, with bacon). I also had two small pieces of what appeared to be whole wheat bread.

The meal went long but was worth it. This is the ‘slower’ season for my line of work and its nice to be able to actually go out to lunch!

Around 3:30, I was feeling a little snacky and pulled out the fruit I packed.

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I am working my way through a whole watermelon at home.

I got home from work around 6:15PM. My legs felt overly fatigued. Last week, I decided to commit myself to doing yoga at least 3 times per week. And so, I have attended 4 (overachiever!) yoga classes in the last 6 days or so.  I am feeling it! Although I had a 3 mile run planned, I knew my legs needed a rest. So instead of hitting the gym, I grabbed a small bowl of cereal to tide me over until dinner and then started out on a meandering walk through my neighborhood. I sort of planned on going to the library, but the weather was looking a little dicey so I stuck closer to my place, weaving in and out of all kinds of side streets. Shadyside really is lovely.

dream house much?

dream house much?

After an hour long walk (I estimate about 3.25 miles) I came home ready for dinner. On a whim, I decided to tackle Ellie Krieger’s Mac and Cheese, made with squash. I added some sautéed TJs chicken sausage and wilted spinach to the mix and came out with a tasty dinner. I made a bit of a mess in my kitchen and did not eat until after 9PM, but was happy with the outcome. You could tell there was something else going on in there with the squash but I liked it. I have tons of leftovers – I think it will freeze decently and be an easy hot lunch or side dish.
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I had this and went back for a little extra scoop. This is a small salad plate – I usually eat from a small plate. Portion control! I am now enjoying some watermelon and a small piece of dark chocolate. I hope to hop in bed soon and continue reading Wicked. I think I made the right decision by giving my body a (active) rest day. I usually force myself to the gym, no matter what – but I can accept that its OK to listen to my body now and again!

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This is likely to turn into a very mish-mash Pittsburgh based post. I apologize in advance for my rambling…

First off, GO PENS! I watched the game Friday night with my friends and was certainly more than happy with the outcome.

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I even managed to get myself to the celebration parade yesterday. Working Downtown does have its perks. Its great to see the city so energized.

This weekend also brought a return trip to Hofbrauhaus (see my first visit here). Hofbrauhaus is located in Southside Works and is designed to resemble the orginal Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. I went on Saturday night and the place was jammed. The group I was with  (about 12 ppl) planned on dining and we ended up waiting almost 2 hours for a table (the website does claim it takes reservations for parties of 12 or more – apparently no one in our group was aware of this). Luckily, the Bier Garden is open. The Bier Garden sits along the river and has open seating at picnic style tables, a large bar, and a great view of the city. You currently have to navigate down a pebble filled hillside to get to the Bier Garden (or traipse through the main dining room and down the stairs) but I am assuming there are plans to pave this area. I believe you can order food in the Bier Garden.

After a long wait in the Garden and many beers, we were seated. This really is a fun place. A live band plays polka and covers. Lots of toasting and yelling and rowdiness. Shouts of “Let’s go Pens!” and “Geno! Geno!” erupted frequently. (Geno was not in fact there – this is just how P-burgh operates).

Be prepared for loudness and drunkenness. Most seats are at long communal tables. I ordered a schnitzel sandwich – it was huge. I easily could have split this with someone. There was no problem or extra charge for subbing a side salad in for fries. However, I think the health factor of the salad was largely overshadowed by the fried schnitzel and generous globs of ‘bier cheese’ covering it. It was nothing mind blowing, but tasty enough and priced decently at $8 or so. The menu has variations of Bavarian dishes (schnitzel, wurst, etc) but also has a selections of more Americanized salads and sandwiches.

And one can’t leave without doing a ‘shotski’.

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Literally a ski with shots attached. Meant for multiple users. As I predicted, the ‘Burgh is lovin’ on this place.

In other Pittsburgh foodie news, I noticed Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa has mentioned on his blog that he will be doing a stint at Yo Rita, located at 1120 East Carson Street in the Southside. To be quite honest, I think this place is a tattoo parlor every time pass it. However, it is apparently a Mexican joint (conveniently located very close to The Boy). I am intrigued to see what his influence brings to Yo Rita.  To note, I was visiting Sousa’s blog in the first place because he abruptly canceled his July 12th BBQ. Damn! I was planning on attending after the press he got in the PG.

The weekend rounded out with a return trip to the Strip District (I was craving a scone from Café Raymond!), the baking of another angel food cake, and a grill-out at the parents.

Whew! Check back later for the continuation of ‘Total Tuesdays’!

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So I made it to the Three Rivers Arts Festival Wednesday night. This event was quite popular when I was in high school – all festivals, etc were. What else do you do before you are 21? We would cruise into the city, wander around, listen to music, EAT.  Somehow, I don’t think I have made it to the festival in a few years. When a friend mentioned she was heading down on Wednesday, I decided to join her.

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 I enjoyed perusing the artists market (pictured above – near Gateway Center), although many of the items are a bit ‘folksy’ for me. Booths of carved wooden boxes, leather goods, yard art, etc – not for me. I am always taken with the photography booths though – there are lots here specializing in Pittsburgh works.

Many people hit Arts Fest simply for the food (this part of the festival is set up in Point State Park) – I am not totally sold on this though. Sure, you can every junk food imaginable – fries, pizza, crepes, gyros, corn dogs.  Earlier in the day, I even happened upon a whole article devoted to ‘healthy eating’ at the Art Festival. But most of the food there strikes me as mass produced and mediocre. I sampled a falafel sandwich last night that ran me $7 and could not even compare to the one I usually munch at Kassab’s. Maybe I just chose poorly? Perhaps everything wasn’t quite as fresh on a Tuesday night as it would have been on a Saturday afternoon?

In all, I do enjoy the Three Rivers Art Festival. Deep down, I love the idea of indulging in a funnel cake or french fries, eaten while lounging in the cool grass of Point State Park, listening to live music. I am not jaded. I still believe in the atmosphere. Heck, I might even go back this weekend.

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My general eating plan is to down healthy stuff during the week so I can ‘splurge’ a bit on the weekends.  I am not vegan or vegetarian, but do seem to stick to a ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle, particularly Monday through Friday. Luckily, I have never had a problem with my weight. However, like every female I know, my healthy choices are partly driven by vanity, partly driven by increased energy and sense of well-being.

Due to some heartburn issues, I recently started to cut caffeine from my diet (specifically coffee) and watch my dairy intake.

I pretty much eat what I want, focusing on getting some whole foods and veggies in there. I do not count calories. I do watch my portion size. I also exercise regularly (3-5 times per week, alternating running, weight training, pilates, and yoga).

The plan is to have ‘Total Tuesdays’ on the blog, a day when I will bore you with give you the minutia of my life. All other posts will continue to focus on the highlights of my foodie existence here in the Burgh.

So, let’s start ‘Total Tuesdays’ on a Wednesday. Here are the eats:

Breakfast, 7:30AM : 1/2 cup oats cooked with water, topped with blueberries, blackberries, a spoonful (TB?) of TJs natural crunchy PB, a small spoonful (Tsp?) Peanut Butter and Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams, 2 TB almonds (hmm, and I believe there are some mini chocolate chips thrown on top)

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An 10 AM snack was a Cashew Cookie Larabar and a Yogi Ginger tea. I don’t put sugar in this tea. I am trying to cut artificial sweeteners from my diet as well.

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Lunch (12:30PM) (not pictured) included a TJs whole wheat pita with hummus, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta cheese.  I had some TJs ‘Rice and Beans’ chips on the side. This was followed by 3 small pieces of dark chocolate.

Afternoon snack (approx 4PM) (not pictured) was a banana and a handful of carrot sticks with hummus.

When I got home from work around 6:30 PM, a handful of cheese and cheddar popcorn from Pittsburgh Popcorn was eaten. Oh, I do love fake cheese powder. Then the workout clothes were thrown on.  When I can (ie the weather is nice and its not dark yet), I walk to the gym. Mapquest tells me this is about a .6 mile walk. Yesterday was a cardio day and I hit the treadmill. I am still a bit addicted to the treadmill. I need to learn to run outside! I did 3 miles on the treadmill, alternating running and walking. I walked approximately 1 mile and ran 2 miles. I did this in about 35 minutes. The .6 mile walk back home was a nice cool down.

After the gym, it was dinner time. Yesterday,I made a creamy pesto with fresh basil, pine nuts, and the farmer’s market chevre. I added some chopped fresh tomatoes and had this over a new TJ’s find:

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The pasta was a bit chewy and nutty, but I liked it, especially for a quick weeknight meal. I also sautéed a tilapia fillet. The pasta and tilapia were split into two servings (leftovers for lunch!) and I sat down to dine with a small glass of Chianti. Yes, I drink wine with dining alone. Don’t judge.

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After dinner, I caught up on a few family phone calls and nibbled a mini soy ice cream sandwich for dessert (also from TJs).

Yes, this is my simple life. When The Boy is home, dinners are a bit more adventurous. However, I often work long hours and need to keep meals quick and easy. I also prefer to workout after work v. the early morning. Therefore, I often eat dinner pretty late. 8:30 or 9 would be the norm. Not sure if this is a problem or not.

And this completes the first ‘Total Tuesday’. Congrats if you are still reading!

Oh, and one more thing:

sidewalk near Mellon Arena

sidewalk near Mellon Arena

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In the interest of branching this out into a bit of a ‘lifestyle’ blog, I am going to attempt to chronicle more of my workouts and everyday eats.

I marvel at the ladies (and perhaps gents?) that find time to post 3x a day and allow us into their every meal and every move.  I am not sure I can live up to such a schedule but do want to introduce more personal musings/opinion into the blog.

Stay tuned!

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